Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Oceana SeaChange Summer Party 2012

I had the privilege of being invited to the 5th annual Oceana SeaChange Party in gorgeous Laguna Beach this past weekend.  This event was hosted by actor Ted Danson, the granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau, Alexandra Cousteau, and the All State commercial guy.  Sorry; I was too busy eating dinner when they announced his name and all I could remember was his voice in those commercials. O_o

"You're in good hands with All State..." lol

The Oceana SeaChange Party has always been a fun event, with celebrities, silent auctions, performances, and special martini bars.  This year, they honored Morgan Freeman, and had other guests attend, such as Kate Walsh (Private Practice),  Emmanuelle Chriqui (Entourage), Angie Harmon, Angela Kinsey (The Office), Aimee Teegarden (Friday Night Lights), Ed Begley Jr, Jenna Ushkowitz (Glee), Trevor Donovan (90210), Kristin Bauer (True Blood), Bella Thorne (Disney), Sarah Shahi (Fairly Legal), Rachael Harris (The Hangover) and Steve Howey (Shameless), along with other celebrity guests.  I had to laugh because the one person I had to get a photo with was Bella Thorne from the Disney show "Shake It Up".  My son had seen her show, and I was eager to send the photo to him.  (Of course, writing that my 11yr old son watches a Disney show on Instagram was uber-embarrasing to him!) 

With the very sweet and gracious Bella Thorne

These gymnasts that served as one of the entertainment for the evening cracked me up.  I had enough martinis by then to start giggling, "Look where his head is!!!"  Ugh, I'm all about class sometimes...

But all joking aside, the Oceana Foundation focuses on saving the ocean to feed the world.  Due to overfishing (25 countries control 75% of the world's fish catch) and bycatch (living creatures that are caught unintentionally by fishing gear.  Unwanted bycatch is usually thrown back into the water. However, handling and exposure sometimes injure the bycatch, which may die after being discarded. Although this discard may serve as food for other species when it is thrown back, it is not recruited into, and does not become a part of, the reproducing population. As a result, discard not only affects the current population, but influences the species' opportunity to replenish itself), the health of the ocean population and that of the more than billion people that are dependant on it to feed them is in jeopardy.  Oceana strives to ensure that the seafood we eat and the water we swim in are healthy for us and for the ocean creatures.  This evening, the foundation successfully raised over $1.1 million dollars for Oceana.

Stolichnaya Elit Martini Bar

Loved that the Stolichnaya Elit company flew in this ice carver from New York to hand carve large circular ice cubes.  Very chic!  I swear my martinis tasted better with these nifty ice cubes.  ;)

hand carves round ice cubes

My last lemon mint martini at the afterparty!

I always love a good afterparty.  They had a neat coffee bar, dessert station, and DJ, but my favorite thing at the end of the night was the Stolichnaya Elit Martini bar.  The flavor of the vodka was crisp and clean, and although I'm normally a gin girl, the Elit was a refreshing liquor for both the traditional and the lemon mint martinis I had to cap off the evening!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Palm Springs a go go

Palm Springs has always been an easy last minute trip for me, as it's only a little over an hour away from Orange County.  The warm weather, relaxed vibe, numerous vintage shops and endless plethora of pools give me a wide range of options during my trips.

Here are a few highlights!

The Colony Palms Hotel has a great pool area and the rooms are quite large and redone well.  It's just a touch too far to be considered walking distance from the main restaurant & shop area, but if you're a bit more energetic than I am, it probably won't be a big deal if you're in flats (hiss hiss! for both flats AND walking).   Service has always been great, and that's always a big plus for me when I'm on vacation.

Pool Cabana

Hendrick's martini, wine, and hummus

Loved this tray of medium sized liquor bottles in the room.  It's for your friends that aren't complete drunks but can handle more than a thimble-full.  Haha!  Must recreate in my guest room when friends stay over...

I always go the the Falls Restaurant for a martini even though it's not the best drink or the best food because A)It was the first martini I've ever seen with dry ice (even before Mastro's and their giant martinis) and B) the people watching is crazy!  People be loco in here!!! 

Fab chandeliers at Lulu's

Lulu's Restaurant was an anomoly for me, as I typically don't like "touristy" restaurants, and will normally avoid any establishment with people that have "farmer's tans".  However, the primarily white leather decor with great chandeliers and ceiling fixtures was Palm Springs glam chic, and the food was definitely good.  They have a great prefixe dinner menu, with one being $16.99 for a 3-course meal (choice of about a dozen different entrees) and the other being $22.99 for a 3-course dinner(including New York Steak, sole, etc).  Bear in mind, it's still very touristy, as the prices are reasonable and it's located in the middle of popular Palm Canyon Dr.  Just order an extra martini and ignore all the flashes going off from cameras.
Schweddy Donkey Balls - Ahahahahaha!

Melvyn's Restaurant at Ingleside Inn is one of those establishments that you have to try when you're in Palm Springs, if only for the fact that everyone's been there.  It's pretty quiet most days and evenings, except for a couple nights during the weekend when they're supposed to have a wild late night crowd.

I've only been there one time before, and I remember loving my sole.  The second time did not disappoint, as the traditionally prepared dish was as tender, flaky, and as flavorful as I recalled.  It's probably the best filet of sole dish I've ever had, even in comparison to chefs across the country in fine dining establishments.  The rest of my meal was just as good, as long as I ordered the basics, such as vicheysoisse (cold potato leek soup) or chicken pot pie.  The crust was nicely browned and delicate, while the creamy filling was full of carrots, peas, and large chucks of chicken. 

The decor makes me giggle, as it looks like I've stepped into time and landed in the 60's.  I like vintage things; why not vintage restaurants, right? ;)  The crowd during the day is a bit older (the table to my right had matching oxygen tanks), but as long as you don't turn around constantly looking for Darth Vader next to you("Kaaaaa Kheeee. Luke, I want your vicheysoisse"), you'll have a great meal.

Patio dining area


Chciken pot pie - Delish!

Stayed at the Ingleside Hotel in their Clark Gable/Carol Lombard Honeymoon Suite.  The location was fantastic, as it was closest to the pool.  Decor is a bit dated again, quite like the restaurant.  Where the look kind of works in Melvyn's, the rooms could definitely use refreshing.

Love the personalized matchbooks!

Pool area of Ingleside

The Palm Springs Air Museum was such fun.  We got to see the actual planes used during World War II, and most of the staff there served in the war.  Such an honor and privelege to get their experiences and stories firsthand.  A definite must do if you're in Palm Springs.

"Well hello, soldier."

Bathroom outfit shot. lol

Moved on over to the Parker Palm Springs Hotel for a few nights.  Definitely much further from the center of town than Colony Palms or Ingleside.  I really enjoyed my stay here, as I felt pampered and relaxed.  Loved the grounds and whimsy in design.  We wandered all over, playing giant chess, ping pong, and cricket.  The firepit was one of my son's favorite things, as you can order the makings of S'mores to be delivered to you. 

Family Pool

Sitting area next to the lobby

Lemonade Stand



 Vintage stores in Palm Springs are so cool, and you get such a great variety.  The 60's and 70's are strongly represented, and I could shop for hours...

Amazing white leather and lucite chairs. 

No trip to Palm Springs is complete with out breakfast or lunch at Pinocchio's.  Prepare for a bit of a wait, as this is no longer an Insider's little secret spot.  It could be the Bottomless champagne for $3.95 (It's not Dom or anything, so don't prepare to be wowed.  It's $3.95 "champagne" people, and it tastes like it), well drinks for $2.50, or the ever-popular Martini burger (burger & martini.  Simple but perfect).  I think it's the good food at huge portions.   My last Palm Springs meal was their egg white burrito with cheese, and a side of browned potatoes with plenty of tapatio.  With a Bloody Mary, of course.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pineapple Serrano Tequila

The last time I went to Palm Springs, I found an adorable vintage highball caddy with a set of eight glasses.  White swirls and gold dots with the neatest brass toned holder reminded me of the Mad Men era of Don Draper-type gents and fashionable ladies lounging poolside in the sun.  The design was so retro 60's cool, that I knew I wanted to base a cocktail on this set.

With temperatures in the 80's in OC, I decided to have friends over for a late lunch in the backyard, and was finally able to use my nifty new cocktail set.

I bought a bottle of nice tequila, but didn't make the mistake again of using too nice of a brand like Patron.  Once the liquor is infused, you lose the subtleties in flavor of a great high quality tequila, so it's a matter of not getting anything too nice, but still starting with a good quality liquor.

Slicing fresh pineapple, I put two long spears worth into the tequila about a week before the party.  You can ideally infuse your liquor for a couple weeks or even a couple months, but it should be put in a refrigerator or wine cellar.  As I only gave myself a week to prepare beforehand, I left it out and shook it often to infuse quicker.  Two days before, I sliced three organic Serrano peppers and added them to the tequila.  If it was jalapeno, I would have added it the same time as the pineapple, but Serrano peppers are extremely spicy, and I didn't want my friends passing out from the heat.

Right before the party, I added young coconut water, agave, and sparkling wine/champagne.  I typically add French champagne (again a good quality champagne, not great quality. Same principles as the liquor) to my cocktails, but the red white and blue bottle of Chandon was so nautical chic that I wanted to try it.  To make serving easier, I added all the ingredients in a pitcher and served it in the vintage glasses over ice.  Yum!

I wanted a vintage feel to my outfit as well, so I chose a mod type print with one of my favorite vintage rings, a Givenchy leaf button reworked into a knuckle ring.  It was paired with a vintage 60's green and gold earring.  The temperature called for an updo, and once I tasted my spicy cocktail, I was relieved I could cool off!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lette Macarons at Fashion Island

Lette Macarons is the latest macaron store to open in Fashion Island at Newport Beach.  Located next to the Great Maple Restaurant (in front of Nordstroms), its sleek white decor fits well with the new modern vibe Fashion Island is trying to go for. 

Lette is a collaboration between Paulette Koumetz and Christophe Michalak, French pastry chef and winner of the 2005 Coupe du Monde de la P√Ętisserie.   This is their fourth shop, with locations in Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Larchmont Village, and now in Newport Beach. 

The vibrant colors of the macarons reflect the unique flavors offered.  My favorites were the passionfruit, lychee, salted caramel, and violet cassis.  I don't know why I'm saying favorites, as the kidlet snatched the rest of the macarons away and gobbled them up, and these four were all I could pry away from him.  ;)  He declared them delicious, and he's the true expert where it come to yummy delectable bites.  I'd definitely go again, but I might get my own dozen and give the kidlet his own too! 

Lette Macarons
Fashion Island
1131 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660